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Do You Aspire To Be Poor? How Shifting Your Mindset Can Encourage Financial Empowerment

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David M. Brenner, ChFC®, CLU®

D. M. Brenner, Inc.
Phone : (858) 345-1001
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Of course, no one wakes up wanting to be poor.

For those who have once experienced poverty, their entire identity might be wrapped up in placing as much distance between that experience and themselves as possible. Lost in that pursuit, however, they may exhibit behaviors or hold on to beliefs that they once had in that state of survival. I know because I was once that person.

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In a 2019 TEDx talk, I share that at various stages in my childhood, my career aspirations changed until I turned 15 when I decided I wanted to be poor. I go on to elaborate that it wasn’t that I truly wanted to be poor, but that in recognizing that I had learned how to operate in survival mode I had created a plan for a financial future around surviving. I didn’t stop to consider that things for me could be different, at least not in the immediate future.

In theory, getting an education and earning a high income would solve this problem. But it’s not until you address the beliefs you have around money and acknowledge how those beliefs may seep into other areas of your life that you’ll begin to shift your mindset into feeling financially empowered. Using the three E’s:

  • Exposure;
  • Education;
  • And execution,

I was able to begin conceptualizing what a greater financial future would look like for me and work towards that plan. It wasn’t just work that I’d be able to complete on my own. It was important that I built a team of people that were knowledgeable and committed to helping me accomplish those goals.


Sometimes all you need in order to realize something is possible is to see someone else do it. Exposure is an important step in this framework because it allows you to become aware that a particular outcome exists. This can occur through:

  • reading a book;
  • taking a course;
  • attending a conference;
  • or even having a conversation with someone who has accomplished it.

Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and having exposure to an idea or process outside of the scope of what is familiar to you can help bring into orbit new goals or ideas for you to set your mind to.


Knowing that something is possible doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be able to make it possible for you. Having a sound understanding of how to break down your new goal into actionable steps you can take toward accomplishing it comes with education. This is where the case for financial literacy is made. Understanding how to use systems, tools, products, and services related to your financial goals, in addition to what behaviors or products to avoid can create an adjustable blueprint for how to approach your goals. Through this process, you’ll also come in contact with various professionals who may assist in accomplishing them.

It’s important to note however that personal finance is more personal than financial and therefore whatever blueprint comes with that education should be used as a template rather than a rule. Again, building a team of people committed to your success is important at this stage as they can not only share their expertise and experience in that endeavor but also point you in the direction of others who can help.


Coming face to face with your limiting beliefs is the most difficult part of the execution phase. Despite having the awareness that a particular goal is within grasp and the knowledge of how to accomplish it, your previous habits or fears related to taking action can stop you from achieving those goals. You might wrestle with feelings of doubt related to being worthy of your goal or what things could go wrong should you accomplish them.

Through that lens, it’s not the fear of failure, but the fear of success that hampers you. Without shifting your mindset the disconnect between the life you want to live and the life you want to escape may grow larger despite increases in income or promotions. Money scripts you have might encourage you to spend more as you earn more or aggressively save in an attempt to hoard your way to wealth.

This is yet another reason why having a team of people invested in supporting you is important. They can remind you of your goals, your accomplishments, and encourage you to take action.

Financial empowerment may look and feel different for everyone but the confidence you gain in achieving one of your financial goals is enough to establish and go after the next. By taking steps to understand not only how to set new goals and work towards them, and how to overcome the limiting beliefs that may stop you from achieving them, you close the gap between aspiring to be poor through the lens of your previous experiences and creating the life of your dreams.

By Rahkim Sabree, CFEI®, RFC®, Contributor

© 2023 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved

This Forbes article was legally licensed through AdvisorStream.

David M. Brenner profile photo

David M. Brenner, ChFC®, CLU®

D. M. Brenner, Inc.
Phone : (858) 345-1001
Schedule a Meeting